Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and Midland Beach, Staten Island, are two neighborhoods — in addition to Lower Manhattan — where plans to open new mosques have sparked outrage. In Midland Beach, St. Mary Margaret convent is to be converted into to a mosque and after-school center.
Neighbors spoke out against the mosque at a civic meeting last week and rallied yesterday at the empty convent. They plan to be there every Sunday.
“In a perfect world we can all get along and live together, but it’s not a perfect world,” said Gerri Owens, 57, a Midland Beach resident. “You open the papers everyday and you read about terrorism.”
Five members of the parish were firefighters who died in 9/11, she noted.
A spate of recent terrorism arrests may be fueling local opposition, said Hesham El-Meligy, a Staten Island Muslim.
“I’m very hurt that this is the situation,” said El-Meligy. He estimated Staten Island’s Muslim community at 25,000 and growing. The five existing mosques on the island’s North Shore are overcrowded, he said.
The borough’s Muslims are doctors, physical therapists and school workers – not terrorists, said Ayman Hammous, a local resident and board member of the Muslim American Society.